City, Park District partner to host community events and activities from morning to night
Highland Park, Illinois – The City of Highland Park (City) and the Park District of Highland Park (Park District) announce plans for the community to gather on July 4, 2023. The City and Park District are working collaboratively to develop events and activities using a trauma-informed approach with a goal of balancing the diverse needs that have emerged in the wake of the Highland Park shooting. The theme, “We are Highland Park,” focuses on who we are as a community. The day’s events will be flexible and structured to allow community members the opportunity to participate in the way that is most comfortable and meaningful for them.
“The events planned for July 4, 2023, will focus on our community,” said Mayor Nancy Rotering. “We know that the day will be filled with emotion as we mark the one-year remembrance of the Highland Park shooting. We have carefully planned events and activities that will allow our community the time and space to remember the seven individuals who were taken from us too soon, opportunities to gather and connect, and provide us with the chance to celebrate Independence Day together as we create new traditions and memories.”
The day will begin at 10:00 AM with a remembrance ceremony at City Hall. The ceremony will include a performance by the Highland Park Strings, remarks by Mayor Nancy Rotering and interfaith clergy, and a moment of silence at 10:14 AM, when the first shots were fired on July 4, 2022. Live Spanish and American Sign Language interpretation will be available, and interpretation in other languages, including Russian, will be available upon request. The remembrance ceremony will be live-streamed on the City’s Facebook page and YouTube channel; the recording will be made available on the City’s website after the holiday.
A community walk will begin at 11 AM, following the 2022 parade route. The walk is a reminder of our beloved community tradition and symbolizes the reclaiming of our town as we build resiliency together. The community walk will step off from City Hall (1707 St. Johns Avenue) and progress north on St. Johns Avenue before turning west on Central Avenue, ending at Sunset Woods Park (1801 Sunset Road.) The community walk will not be a parade and will not include floats or performers. It is intended to be an opportunity for active participation as one Highland Park and does not include viewing.
Community members will be encouraged to register in advance to participate in the walk. Further details regarding the registration process will be available at cityhpil.com/july4 later this spring. Individuals who would like to participate in the community walk but who are unable to walk the full route (just under one mile) are invited to contact the City Manager’s Office at 847.926.1000 / email@example.com. The City is exploring transportation options for community members who need assistance, including seniors and individuals with disabilities.
Beginning at 11:30 AM, the Independence Day Community Picnic at Sunset Woods Park will bring together community members of all ages to enjoy live performances, food, and family-friendly games and activities.
“The picnic is an opportunity for families, friends, and neighbors to come together for a relaxing afternoon to enjoy each other’s company and our community, while also keeping the tradition of celebrating our country’s independence. We are pleased to present activities for people of all ages and abilities.” said Terry Grossberg, president of the Park Board.
In the evening, community members will enjoy entertainment at Wolters Field featuring live music and ice cream novelties, closing with a custom drone show. In consideration of concerns regarding the noise of fireworks and the City’s push for more sustainable alternatives, the annual fireworks display will not be held. The Bitter Jester Music Festival, which traditionally culminates with its grand finale concert on the Fourth of July ahead of the fireworks display, will be held as part of the Taste of Highland Park weekend at The Lot in Downtown Highland Park on Sunday, June 25, 2023.
The planning process has been informed by conversations and feedback with victims’ families and individuals who were injured, as well as input from community members, elected officials, and staff, many of whom attended the parade. Cognizant that individuals build resiliency in their own time and in line with guidance from the Department of Justice, community members are encouraged to “opt-in” to the activities that are most comfortable for them. These multiple opportunities for the community to gather will give individuals the option to choose how best to engage; the City and Park District encourage all community members to be understanding of neighbors who may have a different comfort level.
Information regarding July 4, 2023 activities will be shared by both the City and Park District as planning continues. Updates from the City are available at www.cityhpil.com, and updates from the Park District are available at www.pdhp.org. Individuals are welcome to share their feedback via email to the City at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The City and Park District have prepared the below Q&A to address community questions regarding the activities planned for July 4, 2023. An updated Q&A will be available on the City website as more details are finalized and available. If you have a question that is not answered below, please email us at email@example.com.
How will community members participate in the remembrance ceremony?
The remembrance ceremony will include a short program with a moment of silence, remarks, and music. Following this set program, attendees will participate in a community walk along the 2022 planned parade route (north on St. Johns, west on Central to Sunset Woods Park.)
I am interested in planning a large-scale activity, such as a block party, rally, or march, for July 4, 2023. How do I approach this?
In line with prior years, the City and Park District will not be approving special event permits for Tuesday, July 4, 2023, given the number of planned government-sponsored events.
I am not comfortable attending large gatherings. How can I be involved?
The City and Park District understand that not all community members who would like to be part of these activities will feel comfortable attending a large gathering. The remembrance ceremony will be livestreamed on the City’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. After the holiday, the video will be posted to the City’s website. The City and Park District will explore other opportunities for virtual engagement.
May I ride a bike or drive my car in the community walk?
For the safety of all participants, the community walk is intended for pedestrians only. Parents may bring strollers or wagons for small children. Vehicles and bicycles will not be permitted. The City is exploring transportation options for seniors, individuals with disabilities, and others who would like to participate but are not able to walk the full length of the route. To request transportation assistance along the community walk route, please contact the City Manager’s Office at 847.926.1000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What performance opportunities are available?
Highland Park is home to many talented artists and musicians. To ensure an equitable approach, the City and Park District have already finalized performers for the events on July 4, 2023.
What support will be provided for individuals in need?
Emotional therapy services will be available during the remembrance ceremony at City Hall. ASL and Spanish translation interpreters will also be available. There will be a limited number of chairs for individuals who cannot stand. Please call the City Manager’s Office at 847.926.1000 to request reservation of a chair.
Why are individuals being asked to register to participate in the community walk?
Registering for the community walk will help the City to plan for anticipated crowd size. Participation in the event is free.
Will my group or business be able to participate?
All community members, including businesses and nonprofit organizations, are invited to participate in the community walk following the remembrance ceremony. The walk will not include a pre-planned lineup, floats, or performers. No parade is planned for 2023. Viewing only is discouraged.
Will the Children’s Bike and Pet Parade occur?
Families are encouraged to participate in the community walk. Please note that due to the anticipated crowd size, the community walk will be limited to pedestrians (strollers and wagons permitted.) No separate bike and pet parade will take place.
Will there be opportunities to help plan or volunteer at these events?
Yes, the Park District is seeking volunteers to assist with the Independence Day Community Picnic. Volunteers may help with pre-event planning, event setup/teardown and coordinating, implementing, and supervising games and activities. To volunteer, complete and submit this Volunteer Form.